Review Summary: An average trip to the Death Metal cyberspace – even with some decent sightings on the road.
And here we are, eight years have passed since Nocturnus
, one of Death Metal pioneers into tech territory released their last album Thresholds
. After ensuring rights to the band, firing founder member Mike Browning (such luck, after getting fired of other pioneering death metal band, Morbid Angel
, who he also co-founded), and disbanding due to being dropped off Earache catalog, Sean McNenney (guitars) and Louis Panzer decided to resurrect the band, with a far more spacey theme than before. But is this trip really necessary?
main flaw it’s apparent from the very beginning: it’s the tameness and lack of progression/aggression that a band of this caliber, with so much potential, display. The bass as always (delivered by Emo Mowery, who also does vocals) is really low profile on the mix. Even on the guitar solos, it doesn’t do a single thing to distinguish itself from the main instrumentation– a shame, due to the rhythm section being so solid otherwise. Louis Panzer keyboard parts are not as frenzied as before (where it FIDDLED around the guitars, and didn’t hesitate to be heard upfront on the production), but give even on the background, the perfect extraterrestrial ambience to the music (The Killing
and intro to Search for the Trident
), and are by far the best part of the album . Drums, courtesy of Rick Bizarro, are solid and diverse, with a lot of good fills (Orbital Decay
) and double bass, but have such a LACK of aggression, and feel so docile, that even with a great riff upfront, they just kill what could be a sighting of a nova on this space adventure ( Paranormal State
being the prime example of this).
Riffs and solos (by the duo of McNenney and Mike Davis) are more than fitting and manage to take the ship out of the atmosphere, but long are gone the dual guitar parts and the random (but exquisite and well placed) solos of the past. As with the rest of the album, they feel so PREDICTABLE on their placing ( Apostle of Evil
) and execution; but not all hope is lost in the deeps of the galaxy: Riffs are for the most part catchy and more than decent ( especially on the closing instrumental, Outland
, that without doubt is one of the best tracks), but the landscapes on the way to outer space remains for the most way average.
The band themes still revolve around sci-fi horror, with some (you guess it) average lyrics, and even more common vocals: Mowery retains a mid-ranged growl that while doesn’t upright annoys, doesn’t deliver anything new to the table. With a tad more aggression, the vocals could have been the fuel that could have blasted the album to the infinite, but alas, even being appealing on their execution (Apostle of Evil
, Orbital Decay
), and some cool effects / distortions on some parts, that defining moment, that turbulence that brings excitement, never arrives.
With a mostly mid tempo approach and accommodated performance, Ethereal Tomb
kills right away all the impact that this cyberspace trip could have delivered. While a breath of fresh air of all the metal produced on its timeframe, this feels like something that a new band would have done, and not the odyssey expected from one of Death Metal once most original bands. Only recommended to those who are beginning their journeys into Death Metal landscapes.
Apostle of Evil